Friday, October 3, 2008

Sign Wars

The sign wars are upon us.  Up and down my street, my neighbors are putting out their yard signs to show which candidate they support.  McCain across the street � Obama next door.  Obama three doors down and McCain the two houses after that.  House by house, we are a neighborhood divided.  Only if you look at the signs, of course, because it�s not like we are really talking about it.  That is, we�re not talking about it with the McCain supporters across the street.

So why, if the election is what is really on everyone�s minds, are we ignoring the proverbial white elephant in the room?  Do we simply want to be polite and respectful to those who have an opinion different from our own or is it just easier to only speak with those who share our views?  I�m not sure if my 83-year-old McCain-loving neighbor was insulted or amused when my five year old asked her why she liked war so much.  She was confused at first but he pointed to her McCain yard sign and said, �You like McCain so you must like war.�    She laughed a little and looked at me.  I shrugged and said, �We�re an Obama family� and that sort of ended the discussion.

I have always shied away from talk of politics.  Typically, I have felt too un-informed to participate in such conversations.  I don�t even know what a Pundit is.  But it�s like March Madness and suddenly I�m a basketball fan.  I am late coming to the impassioned political party but here I am.  I watched the debate.  I follow the polls.  I go on-line to listen to the speeches.  I read the headlines on Huffington Post.  I can honestly say that I have never before quite felt this way about an election � completely emotionally invested in the outcome. This will be the first time that I will be voting for a candidate rather than against one.  And I want to talk about it. 

However, I am aware of a certain discomfort in discussing such matters.  Being from New England and in the words of Dar Williams, We don�t like to make our passions other people�s concerns.�  I was raised in a family where polite conversation did not involve talk of politics, religion and sex.  I personally felt uncomfortable reading a blog post recently written by someone who is very pro-Palin and I will guiltily admit that I may not be back to read that particular blog for a while.  Several others have commented that they steer clear of politics on their personal blogs for the same reasons and I understand.  It simply feels safer to talk about the current state of the election with like-minded people � I get it. 

The problem is, only speaking with folks who feel the same way I do isn�t really helping the cause.  I can write numerous posts about what I like about Obama and what I dislike about McCain and those of you who agree with me will say, �Sing it Sister� and those of you who disagree will quietly click away.  I�m sure I won�t be changing anyone�s mind if they have already made their decision.  There is no reason for stumping here.  [For those who are completely undecided and plan on flipping a coin in the voting booth, email me and I�ll tell you why I am pro-Obama � or ask my five-year-old.]  Seriously, do you really want to hear what I think of Palin�s Katie Couric interview?  I bet you can guess. However, I feel that we do need some true activism so I make the following proposals for whatever side of the ticket you are leaning:

1. Stop talking about the candidate for whom you are not voting and start talking about the candidate for whom you are voting.  Tell us why you think he�s the right man for the job.

2. Write a heart-felt email or letter detailing these reasons and send it to everyone you know.

3. Call your local campaign office and find out how you can help.  You can volunteer any number of ways by helping to get folks registered to vote or making calls.  If you don�t have that kind of time, offer to donate food to feed the other volunteers.  Here is the contact info for the Durham for Obama office but oddly enough, I couldn�t find a local office for McCain.

4. Donate to the campaign of your choice.  It�s going to take money to campaign hard in the battleground states, which now includes North Carolina.

5. Offer to drive someone to the polls that ordinarily might not be able to get there on their own.

6. Find out who�s on the fence � these are the people who will decide the election and these are the people we need to be talking to.

7. Get the facts on your favorite candidate � feel free to correct people who are spreading ideas that are simply not true.  For example, �No, Obama is not the anti-Christ.�  Need help wading through all the �facts�?  Go to for nonpartisan information.

8. If you are not already, get registered to vote.  You must be registered by October 10th.  If you don�t know how to do this, go to and do it on line.

9. By all means, vote.  But only McCain or Obama can be president so think carefully before wasting your vote on a third party candidate or write-in.  No one has ever made it to the Oval Office by a write-in vote.  If you do decide to write-in your vote, email me ahead of time so I can make sure you know how to spell my son�s name correctly. 

Right now, especially here in the Triangle, it feels like anything can happen.  But if true change is to happen, it is going to have to start with us.  Be proactive!  Stake your yard sign proudly.  And please, please talk about it � I�d love to hear what you are thinking.

Susie writes about her kids and their political wisdom on her personal blog At Home With Me.



Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home